What Does Christmas Mean to Me?

After I posted this last night, Dalton and Destinie were already on their way to the hospital for an early Christmas gift!  Baby Mariya Jane Atha was born early this morning in North Carolina!

Christmas traditions in Brazil look a little like home when you go to the big city malls.  You may see some blinking lights hanging on a porch.  Most cities have some sort of decorations.  Churches have presentations and maybe even some parties.  But overall it's just not the same.  Even after 20+ years of living overseas, my longings for all the things that make up a good old traditional American Christmas are strong if not visibly muted.

This year at a new mall in the big city
We decorate a "real" fake Christmas tree.  And yes, it came over in a container from the USA quite a few years ago.  It's slap full of decorations that mostly came from America with some handmade things, some things from Brazil and even one thing from Niger!  I put out my nativities and some angels.  My tree lights come on every night and stay on all night long on Christmas eve.


I play Christmas music every day of December.  You won't find a Christmas radio channel around here, although this year I did find an online mix of "Brazilian" holiday music.  Most of the songs are sung in English!  I miss going to big Christmas cantata presentations.

I always make Christmas cookies and even get some of my English students to come over to help and learn.  I cook traditional dishes and we usually get together with other American expat missionaries in our area to share a holiday meal.  But the smells of Christmas aren't there with that fake tree and our always open and windy house.

We try not to go overboard on the gifts since most of our children's friends may not even get anything on Christmas.  It's not because they are all poverty stricken it's just not a part of all families' traditions.  Children's Day is a holiday in October where all kids get a gift.  Some do on Christmas, some don't.  Yes, some just don't because of a lack of money.

So what brings that joy of the season?  It's not the temperature!  December is usually our hottest month of the year with temps always in the upper 90's and sometimes hitting 100 easily. 

Last week on a 100+ day

So what is it?  It's a day to remember the love of God for us.  To consider that first Christmas and be reminded of Christ's great sacrifice for us.  It's a day of family and taking a time to be together with much love.  It's a day to be thankful for the blessings of God during this year.  Even though we can't be close to all of our family, we can show that love with calls, mailed gifts, messages - and plans for those big furlough Christmas reunions!

This year I am very thankful for all of the gifts God has given to my family.  In just a few days our first granddaughter will be born joining our middle son's growing family that already contains the cutest little boy you have ever seen.  And we still rejoice every day for the salvation of this son earlier this fall.  He and his family are in church every Sunday and growing in Christ.

This year we enjoyed a month long visit with our oldest and his steady girl!  It was an incredible time together.  Also this year we've seen our youngest in full time participation in our church work and growing leaps and bounds in his music.

Thank you, God, for all my gifts!

"The only gift I'll ever need is the joy of family
Oh, why? 'Cause that's Christmas to me..."


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